According to an assessment published by Business Europe, an EU association of employers, the Czech Republic is one of the EU countries that are successful in addressing the challenges posed by the global financial crisis. Business Europe’s assessment suggests that the Czech Republic’s economy is well on the way to catching up with the more advanced EU states. In the area of export, the Czech Republic ranks fourth amongst 29 countries that include EU member states as well as Norway and Switzerland. Among the weak points of the Czech economy, the assessment cited low productivity along with the cost of labor.
Pavel Hlinka, the president of the Czech Association of Restaurants and Hotels, said on Sunday that about fifty percent of Prague pubs and the majority of upscale restaurants are planning to change into non-smoking establishments as of July. Within a new law aiming to curb smoking in public that takes effect on July 1, restaurants and bars will be obliged to display stickers that indicate whether smoking is allowed on their premises or not. Outside of Prague, the number of establishments planning to ban smoking is significantly lower, Mr. Hlinka added. Although the respective legislation was approved by Parliament last summer, bar and restaurant owners were given a year to prepare for the introduction of the new measure.
The rescue service in the North Bohemian Krkonoše mountains has issued a high degree avalanche alert. After heavy snowfall over the weekend, the risk was rated at level three on a five point scale. Skiers have been warned not to stray from marked trails and to exercise caution. Some skiing locations saw up to 50 centimeters of fresh snow over the weekend and heavy winds are contributing to the danger. Avalanches happen several times a year in the Krkonose mountains but rarely affect populated areas or high-traffic skiing routes. The last victim of an avalanche in the Krkonoše mountains was a 36-year-old skier who died after being buried by an avalanche in 2008.
The government on Monday decided to grant extraordinary funds of 2.25 billion Czech crowns to the Ministry of Transport to help repair roads and railways that were badly damaged by the harsh winter. The ministry estimates damages to the tune of 6.5 billion crowns, which is about 4 billion more than the projected sum. After the Ministry of Finance had refused to cover the difference, Gustav Slamecka, the minister of transport, asked the government to cover part of the remaining funds needed to repair Czech roads.
The Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Hermann, said on Monday that road
checks in the Czech-German border areas must continue in view of curbing
crime. The minister said newly published crime statistics indicate that
Bavaria last year saw the lowest number of criminal acts since 1992. Czechs
were at the top of the statistics of incidents where foreigners smuggled
drugs into Bavaria.
At the same time, car theft along the border with the Czech Republic
increased. Mr. Herrmann said the key to success was in effective
Increased controls of Czech drivers in Bavaria had lead the former prime minister, Mírek Topolánek, to criticize the Bavarian and German governments, stating that the controls constituted harassment and should cease immediately.
Over the weekend, an Egyptian tortoise was born in Prague Zoo. The Egyptian tortoise is among the most endangered species of tortoises world wide. Prague Zoo has been breeding the animal for two years, the newly born specimen is the zoo’s fifteenth Egyptian tortoise. Only 4700 specimen are estimated to be living in the wild. The Egyptian Tortoise is native to Libya and Israel.
On Saturday, customs officers in the Moravian town of Brno uncovered counterfeit designer purses and clothes valued at about six million Czech crowns, a police spokeswoman said on Monday. Officers uncovered the fake designer goods during a routine inspection at a local market where they discovered a retail stand that was unlocked and unattended. After searching the stand, the police found a secret storage area behind a mirror where the owners had hidden the counterfeit goods. The find is one of this year’s biggest. The stand’s owners could face a fine of up to five million crowns.
On Monday, the government approved a proposal to open schools designed to integrate socially disadvantaged and disabled children. The measure is meant to address the lack of integration in the Czech school system and seeks to facilitate co-education of disabled and healthy children, as well as to include children from socially weak families, including children of Romany origin. One of the possible ways of helping to integrate these students would be to introduce a mandatory pre-school year to help bring children’s abilities to an elementary school level. The proposal also seeks to increase the number of staff trained to address the needs of disabled students and students who have a hard time keeping up with the class.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the home of a Romany family in the
North Moravian town of Ostrava late on Saturday night, Czech TV reported on
Monday. The bottle landed in the bedroom of a 14 year old girl who was able
to extinguish the burning bottle before it caused further damage. Nobody
was injured in the attack. The perpetrators are yet unknown, police are
investigating the case as a threat to public safety.
In April of last year, a Romany family in the Moravian town of Vítkov was victim of a racially motivated arson attack. The family’s two-year-old daughter suffered severe burns and had to undergo numerous operations before being released from the hospital in November.
Last year, the Czech Republic saw a growth in population of about 40,000, according to data published by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday. The number of immigrants was seen to have dropped significantly compared to the previous year, when 70,000 immigrants arrived in the Czech Republic. Nonetheless, immigration was the main factor in population growth in 2009. The number of births outweighed the number of deaths by about 11,000. The data also confirmed the end of the baby boom that the country saw between 1999 and 2009. Overall, more babies are born out of wedlock, with a trend of motherhood later in life. The average age at which Czech women became mothers in 2009 was 29, as opposed to 27 in the previous year.
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